There’s a lot of information out there about growth hacking, or whatever the latest new terms are for getting a bunch of potential customers to show up at your website. However, in a lot of cases these things focus on the wrong thing: sheer numbers. A bunch of of people showing up at your SaaS app’s website won’t matter if they were never interested in buying what you’re selling (or anything at all) in the first place. You want the right kind of people showing up on your website. If your site is properly focused on your audience (a specific type/group of people who you are building the product for), people who aren’t in that audience will immediately see that the product isn’t right for them and not go much further. This is what you want.
A properly focused product and sales site will get you exactly the type of customers that you want. If your sales site isn’t focused on a specific audience, you are setting yourself up for unhappy customers, which will lead to bad customer retention down the road. If you try to be everything to everyone just to get more people to sign up, what happens down the road when they find out that your product doesn’t actually do what they thought that it would do for them, or that it’s so broadly focused that it gets in their way or doesn’t do what they want effectively enough? Best case, they get fed up and cancel their account. Worst case, they spread the word to their friends about how your app is terrible, when it actually just wasn’t made for them.
Consider a real-world example: Groupon and other daily deals companies offer ridiculously low-priced deals to get a bunch of people to visit a business, and hopefully to spend some money. Businesses usually use one of these services when they are having trouble getting the word out about themselves via other marketing channels. But if their low-pricd deal is a success, now the business has more problems. It’s swamped, and it may not have enough staff to give everyone a great level of service, so a lot of people may show up and never come back because they had a bad experience. It could actually be one of the best businesses in town in that particular category, but it won’t be on top of its game on the day when it’s most important.
Let’s also not forget that the people who showed up aren’t even necessarily the kinds of people who would normally show up and pay full-price for the service of that business. Most likely they are not, because they showed up on a night when prices are slashed, so the price is probably what got them in the door in the first place. So now there’s a much greater chance that there will be a large group of unhappy customers who never would have darkened the door of the business in the first place, but who will be out there spreading the word about how that business is terrible.
That sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Who in their right mind would set themselves up for failure like that? Not us! So why do we do that with our websites/marketing? Let’s go back to SaaS apps and see how this applies.
So you make an app that isn’t focused on a specific audience, with a sales site that tries to get anyone looking at the page to sign up for the product, and you use some crazy growth-hacking techniques to get thousands of people to sign up for your service. Now you’re swamped with support from people who don’t understand the product (because it wasn’t built specifically for people like them), who have a bad support experience because you or your team is overwhelmed with support requests. The app doesn’t fit them, so they leave. The support experience is terrible, so they leave. Some people might even suffer for a bit and stick around, but since your app isn’t focused and you keep adding features with no specific audience in mind, they get more frustrated over time and leave. Then they spread the word to their friends about how your app is terrible.
Customer retention starts by targeting the right audience with the right product. If you don’t do that, you’ve built a leaky sieve and you won’t be retaining as many customers as you could if you narrowed your focus. You need to have a narrowly focused product that solves a problem for a particular audience that is willing to pay you for the solution. It’s even better if the audience already sees that what you’re solving is a problem, because they’re more likely to seek out solutions on their own and find you. You’re going to have a much harder time hard time selling to someone when you have to convince them that they have a problem before you can start telling them why your product is the one that they should pick.
You don’t need all of the customers in the world to have a thriving business. You only need the right customers. Trying to build something that everyone will want to use is a recipe for failure and disappointed/angry customers, who will sign up but then cancel because your product isn’t right for them. Save everyone some time and use your marketing/sales site to let people know that your product is/isn’t right for them. You want people to see your home page/product and either think, “Wow! That’s just what I need!” or, “I definitely don’t need that”.
There’s a bonus here too: By concentrating on one audience, it’s easier to make decisions about marketing, product focus, new features, what should/shouldn’t be in the product, and more. Focusing your product focuses you.
Kill your churn. Keep more of your customers. Get an invite to Retained.